Alpine Summit

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

Oh Give Me Land, Lots of Land

This week's Carnival of the Capitalists features a post by Half Sigma about how the density of a city's population is inversely proportional to its economic efficiency. In other words, the more people there are in a city, the less efficient everyone is.

There are a lot of pro-public transportation liberals who think that we would all be better off if we lived in dense urban environments where we could take public transportation and not have to waste resources driving around in our own individual cars.

Does this make sense from an economics viewpoint? Based on how expensive it is to live in New York City, the answer is a big loud NO.

He doesn't actually give numbers or point to research, but given that prices are so much higher in cities, I'm inclined to agree. He has two theories as to why these inefficiencies occur:


Dense populations create transportational and space inefficiencies.



Densely populated areas attract liberals, who elect liberal politicians who then pass into law economically inefficient liberal politices. Like rent control, wasteful government spending which necessitates high taxes, and all sorts of burdensome regulations which increase the cost of doing business.

Considering the fact that it's pretty much irrefutable that dense areas of the country are decidedly liberal (NYC, LA, Seattle, etc.), I completely agree with theory two--but I don't know if it necessarily contributes to economic inefficiencies. I mean, some of the "added" costs of funding social programs already existed. Some things are just so well-funded, no new taxes are needed. On the other hand, they're still costs not being paid by other cities and towns around the nation, so I guess that much is true.

This is why I like suburban/rural-suburban areas like Laramie, WY. Most people here have a live-and-let-live attitude about things, while it seems to me that people in the city are always looking for ways to poke their nose into your affairs. Not to mention lower cost of living. Unfortunately, given my chosen field of expertise, I'm probably doomed to not only live in a city, but New York City at least once in my life. Such is life I guess.